Tuesday, January 21

Photo gallery focuses on candid communication as lens for understanding consent

The Bruin Consent Coalition's "Love Shouldn't Be Scary" gallery will open Monday in Kerckhoff Hall and be on display until the end of week two. It features photos and advice from communicative couples. (Courtesy of Atreyi Mitra)

This post was updated Oct. 1 at 3:03 p.m.

Students curated a gallery of happy and communicative student couples to generate conversation about communication and consent.

Bruin Consent Coalition, an organization which aims to educate the campus about sexual assault, created the gallery as part of Relationship Violence Awareness Month in an effort to bring attention to the need for communication within relationships. BCC is housed under the Undergraduate Students Association Council Student Wellness Commission.

The photos of 13 couples will be displayed in Kerckhoff Hall beginning Wednesday and through the end of week two.

Atreyi Mitra, a BCC marketing director responsible for the gallery and a second-year human biology and society student, said she hopes the gallery will present a serious issue through a more approachable and lighthearted lens.

“We’re hoping that by utilizing this perspective of couples who work well together, seen through candid photos, we can show UCLA how relationships should work and what aspects to model in their own relationships,” Mitra said.

She added one in three women and one in six men will experience sexual violence over the course of their lifetime.

Elaine Miao, a fourth-year political science student, is featured in the gallery with her partner George Louis Faour. Miao said she thinks UCLA and its student organizations focus more on dealing with domestic violence than demonstrating how to be in a healthy relationship.

“While (addressing domestic violence) is important, I think it’s also good to highlight the steps toward creating a healthy environment between two partners, and this gallery takes a step toward doing that,” Miao said.

Faour, the student wellness commissioner, added issues of sexual assault and sexual violence are usually addressed outside the context of relationships. He said he thinks discussing these topics with people in relationships adds new ideas to the discussion of consent.

Kristie Mai, a second-year Asian American studies and history student, and Steven Huang, a second-year aerospace engineering student, are another couple featured in the gallery. They said they created “the 4 C’s” to maintain their relationship: communication, compassion, compromise, consent.

“We believe with communication, you can talk out anything that’s a misunderstanding,” Huang said. “When you understand more, then you can compromise to have best of both worlds.”

[Related: Video: Relationships – What Works]

Sophie McMurry, a co-director of BCC and third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, added people tend to be uncomfortable with discussing issues of consent. She said people often accept the status quo rather than advocate for change.

McMurry related this to the recent allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Stanford professor Christine Blasey Ford alleged earlier this month that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of his confirmation hearing.

“With Brett Kavanaugh, when his background and issues have come out, there’s a tendency to just get comfortable with the issues,” McMurry said. “But it’s important we do more.”

McMurry said policy and legislation are important factors in changing the way the country addresses issues of consent, but there are also important opportunities for activism at the individual and local levels.

“It’s about raising voices, getting involved where you can make a difference,” McMurry said. “You know, never stopping the fight at all levels, whether that’s national or somewhere else.”

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